East Stirlingshire saw their South Region Challenge Cup run come to an end at the hands of junior heavyweights Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic on Saturday in a fiery clash littered with fouls.
Despite their Lowland League challenge ending well before the start of Derek Ure’s tenure, Shire still maintained hopes of ending the season with some silverware as they travelled to face a Rose side for a place in the semi-final.
However, overcoming the New Dundas Park outfit, who are unbeaten in the East of Scotland League, posed a difficult proposition for Shire despite their own recent purple patch which had produced four wins on the bounce.
Heavy winds seemed to stifle both teams in the early exchanges, but it did little to dampen the intensity of the game with Andy Grant’s crunching tackle on Ewan Moyes setting the tone early. Rose, with the wind firmly on their side, should have taken the lead through Aaron Murrell after he was sent through on goal, but Jamie Barclay was alert to Murrell’s attempted chip, clawing it away for a corner.
Barclay had been named club captain in midweek after Danny Ashe had signed a pre-contract agreement with Kelty Hearts. The Shire keeper demonstrated exactly why Ure had entrusted him with the armband as he made save after save to keep his side in the game.
Those saves almost proved pivotal when Connor Greene forced Bryan Young into a fine save with Shire’s first real chance.
Having survived relentless first half pressure from Rose there was a real sense that Ure’s men couldtake advantage with the wind on their side.
However, referee Stewart Luke’s decision to award a controversial penalty to Rose derailed Shire’s second half push. Lee Currie stepped up and duly converted the penalty in emphatic style; sending Barclay the wrong way.
It got even worse for Shire shortly after when Andy Rodgers, so often his side’s creative spark, inadvertently directed the ball into the back of his own net to give Rose some breathing room. Rodger’s nightmarish afternoon culminated in his sending off after he received his second yellow card of the game to round off a disappointing afternoon for Shire.
Shire will have to pick themselves up if they are to bounce back against Gala Fairydean Rovers this weekend.